"The Decision" is in: LeBron James Named MVP
It started with an opening day thrashing of the defending champion Dallas Mavericks in which LeBron James showcased a completely revamped low post game. And it never really stopped.
James was as consistent this season as he has ever been from start to finish, and there was really no suspense leading up to the announcement for who would be named NBA MVP for the 2011-12 season.
James received 85 of a possible 121 first-place votes and had 1,074 points overall in the voting results. Kevin Durant finished second with 24 first-place votes and 889 overall voting points. Chris Paul finished a surprising third in this year's voting with 385 overall points and six first-place votes. Kobe Bryant was fourth (352, two first-place votes) and Tony Parker of the Spurs was fifth with 331 points, four first-place votes).
What made James the obvious choice was the way his game evolved in just one year. His improved skills with his back to the basket made the ultra-physical James even more dominant, leading to better shot selection and ultimately conversions, as his career high .531 field goal percentage would indicate. He quietly led the Heat in rebounds (a career high 7.9 pg) and assists (6.2 pg) while shooting a career high from downtown, hitting threes at a .362% clip.
So what does this mean for James legacy? Whether people want to admit it or not, James is already one of the best players in NBA history after just nine years, winning three MVP awards in the past four seasons. But ultimately, his career will be defined by whether or not he ever wins an NBA title.
James has been so productive and amazing, that we take his production for granted. Now, no matter what he does, until he wins a title, there will always have an easy excuse to point to when arguing that James doesn’t stack up against the game’s all-time greats.
Which is what makes the current version of the NBA postseason more important for James than any other player in the field.